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Monday, February 28, 2005

The Hole in My Soul

I really should be in bed by now, but I wanted to share something that struck me today while driving home from class.

As a Christian, I believe that God created all of us for worship - we all worship something; that's part of who we are. I think, however, that God did more than just make us worshippers...I think God designed us so that we desire to be loved.

Paschal speaks of a "God shaped vacuum" in all of us, and I find that helpful. God has created this cavity within our souls and we all spend our lives trying to fill it.

In most cases, we go about it entirely the wrong way - we love ourselves (which devolves into selfishness), or we try to get others to love us (through performance, manipulation, fear, sympathy...we're pretty creative here). Hunter did it his way; I do it mine. But we all try to slake that thirst and nothing really satisfies, because God has designed it so that HE is the only peg that plugs that hole in our soul.

So there stands God, offering me all the affirmation I could ever want. Why is it that I have such a hard time embracing it?

Just this - I want God to want me because of me, because of what I am, because he needs me. In short - I want God to want me the way I want others to want me; I don't want God to fill my void, I want to be the thing that fills God's void...I want to be God.

And God says, nothing doing. There's nothing in me that is valuable in and of itself. The only reason for God loving me arises in him, not in me. He decided he would love me, and he decided that faith in Christ would be means of experiencing that fulfillment.

And that bothers me, because I want to be worth something to God, on my own, apart from him. That's why I constantly twist his gospel, to try and commend myself. Rather than simply acknowledging my own lack of worth, and believing that he will love me anyway.

That's faith. That's what God promises. And that's the only way we experience his love.


You see, God calls us to love one another the same way (because of him, not them). I generally do a pretty lousy job of it. But my wife loves me this way, and seeing that kind of love expressed does something amazing to my heart. Being caught dog dead in my sin, and yet receiving forgiveness and grace rather than the wrath I deserve.

You see, if you really knew me, deep down, I'm not sure how many of you would like me. Of all the people in the world, Marilyn is the only one who knows me for who I really am, she has seen the blackness of my heart...and she loves me anyway.

In spite of myself, for the sake of Christ.

My wife illustrates Christ's love for me; she incarnates the gospel. And that is what Christ calls us to do as well. We need to preach that gospel to ourselves. We need to practice it on others. This truth more than any other has revolutionized my life; it will do wonders for the hole in your soul.


At 5:06 PM, March 01, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

See, that was a much better way to get your point accross. Don't you think?

At 5:27 PM, March 01, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Charles, do you mean in comparison to the Hunter post?

If so, can you tell us a bit more about how you see this post differing from that one? What did you like about this one that you didn't like about that one? Was it a difference in content? Or in form? Or something else?

I'm genuinely curious to better understand what you are actually hearing me say...

(and I know there are others here who are sympathetic w/ Charles' position, so anyone can feel free to jump in on this).

At 6:24 PM, March 01, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

Well, in the other post, you were just so pissed off at what you read, and I think that that anger made a post that, in my opinion, did not have a strong coherent argument. The things that you said you were angry about seemed to conflict with one and other. I also think that there is a general rule that we do not talk unkindly about people who have just died. Even if you had a coherent argument, some would be taken aback by the perceived lack of tact. Let’s put this in perspective. How would you feel if you read a liberal blogger that talked bad about Ronald Reagan the week that he died, even if you agreed that he made good arguments? Would you actually listen to what he had to say, or would you dismiss it? I really don’t care about such rules, but the root of your post was that you were mad that no one said anything bad about a man that just died. Does that really make any sense to you?

Now, let’s contrast that with this post. The message of the post is EXACTLY the same, the importance of faith. You were talking about something from your own experience. You were very personal, and you gave a bit of yourself, the good and the bad. It did not look like you were judging anyone. It was an effective way to get your argument across, and it opens up the doors for conversation. You shared your personal experiences, so naturally, it gives other people room to share theirs. Where as in the other post, there really wasn’t an opening for any kind of real conversation. It was just something that was out there.

I think that in knowing you for a year and a half, I understand what your goals are, even if I don’t agree with them. I think that the last post did not serve your goals. It would likely turn unbelievers off and not cause believers to think. I know that that is not what you want to do. I am not saying that you should walk on eggshells or anything, but what I am saying is that when you write something, think about your goal in writing it. Does it serve that goal, hurt it, or none of the above? If it hurts it, then don’t write it. If it is none of the above, then is the purpose a good one nonetheless? If it helps it, then go ahead.

At 7:17 PM, March 01, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Thanks, that's very interesting.

Just to clarify, from my perspective I wasn't angry - or at least not with Hunter. I am a little appalled that we would view "suicide" as synonymous with "he died," and that's really what I was taking issue with. Now at the same time, if what you heard was anger, then I'm at least partly to blame, for not being more careful in how I said it.

Re-reading my post I can see that my tone was flippant and insensitive in a way that I wouldn't have been had I actually known the person and been writing something his family would have read. So that's something I need to apologize for. Please forgive me for that.

Now you said something else that I find interesting. You said that both posts are about the importance of faith. And that is correct. Partially.

I was also trying hard to point out that we are not just called to have faith. We are called to repent. And that means we have to recognize that there are rights and wrongs. And I didn't hear any of that in the Hunter article.

Now I need to be careful not to read too much into your summary (you may well have seen both sides). But Jesus clearly says things are wrong, and most of what the Bible calls "sin" can be traced directly to a selfish, idolatrous heart.

And if Hunter acted sinfully, we need to admit that the Bible would call that sin. And that same standard applies to both you and me the same.

The real challenge in all of this is how to tell you as an unbeliever that you are indeed a sinner in need of repentance, and yet to say that in such a way that you hear from me is not anger or condemnation, but rather love and identification, because I am a sinner too.

The only difference between us is that I actually have hope of changing because through faith Christ is changing my heart (but even here, that is nothing to commend me over you, because even my faith is a gift from God - I have absolutely no room to boast).

Unfortunately, you've experienced firsthand how poorly we often communicate that. And for that I apologize.

Thanks for your willingness to listen and to give us feedback on what you really helps.

At 7:50 PM, March 01, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

There was no need to apologize. I wasn't offended. I was surprised.

The real challenge in all of this is how to tell you as an unbeliever that you are indeed a sinner in need of repentance, and yet to say that in such a way that you hear from me is not anger or condemnation, but rather love and identification, because I am a sinner too.As far as me being a sinner, well, I don't use that language, but I would call myself human, and to be human is to have faults. As far as repentance, well, I have needed to repent, but I just haven't done so in the way that you think that I need to. And as far as faith, well, I have faith, but it is just different from yours, but not as different as you would like to believe.

I think that the only way that you can tell someone that is if they really want to hear it. You just have to figure out how to find that out, and that is hard, because your eyes are subjective, so you will want to believe what you want to believe, when in reality, the person is telling you something totally different.

I wish that I could tell you guys the magical way in which you can tell someone this, but I am one of those people who doesn’t want to hear it, at least not yet. But I am glad to learn where you are coming from, even if I still don’t agree with it. I will tell you that the first thing that you need to do is establish trust. People shouldn't feel like projects, but people whome you care about. As I told you before, you have come a long way with regards to this.

At 6:31 AM, November 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

god is dead, stop trying to explain everything for yourself. try to sleep. accept that when you die you stop existing. there is no mind without a body.


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